Antares explosion, Dassault, deregulation, EDF, explosion, failed technology, Gazprom, government contractors, government subcontractors, lack of oversight, lunar landing, lunar rover, military, NASA, nuclear, nuclear propulsion, nuclear waste, nuclear waste disposal, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Orion, rocket, Russia, Thales, USA, Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island
Every few years the stupid idea of shooting nuclear waste into the sun or otherwise sending it into space comes up. While there are probably many reasons that this is a bad idea we will stick to basics: What if the Antares rocket which just blew up had been full of nuclear waste? Or nuclear powered?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)
This was not the first such failure, nor will it be the last.
What is Antares? “Antares is a two-stage launch vehicle designed to deliver medium-class payloads weighing up to 6120 kg into space. Antares utilizes refurbished Russian-built engines which were originally manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s for the Soviet moon rocket. Initially developed to demonstrate commercial re-supply of the International Space Station under a NASA contract, the first launch took place on April 21, 2013, from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. The fifth launch ended in failure on October 28, 2014, completely destroying the vehicle and damaging the launch pad.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_Sciences_Corporation (Emphasis added).
A historical reminder:
“There have been six manned U.S. landings (between 1969 and 1972)… To date, the United States is the only country to have successfully conducted manned missions to the Moon.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_landing (Emphasis our own)
“Though stressing the exact cause of the failure was unknown, an executive at Orbital lamented the lack of more modern alternatives to its rocket engines, which were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the failed aim of putting Soviet cosmonauts on the moon.” http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/28/antares-rocket-explodes-nasa-launch-pad-orbital-science (Emphasis our own).
Why did the Russians have another rocket on standby? Caution or expected failure? http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/29/russian-rocket-crash-virginia
There is probably a lot to examine on this such as the role of private government contractors, military contractors, etc, but we will leave that to others to figure out. We note in passing Orbital’s business with Thales. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_Sciences_Corporation
Thales is 27% French govt. owned and 26% Dassault Aviation owned – both with ties to the nuclear energy and nuclear weapons industry. Furthermore, the former CEO of Thales, Jean-Bernard Levy, was just appointed CEO of mostly French government owned EDF, who owns all French nuclear reactors and all but one in the UK. EDF, in turn, has business interests with Russian govt. controlled Gazprom.(References – more at bottom.)
“On Wednesday, the newspaper Kommersant reported that the state oil company Rosneft was seeking new retaliatory measures over sanctions against Russia…” http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/29/russian-rocket-crash-virginia Gazprom is 10.7% Rosneft owned. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazprom
It’s a small incestuous little world, to say the least.
While our technical advisor loves everything to do with space, our primary author, once an avid NASA fan, has had no interest in the topic since the lunar rover and remains skeptical of all things related to space and their true purpose and intent.
The most important point is what former “nuclear industry executive, and engineer with over 30 years of experience who became a whistleblower in 1990,” Arnie Gundersen likes to tell people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Gundersen
Fairewinds.org, CC-BY-SA-3.0 http://www.fairewinds.org/wave/
This issue of lack of oversight looks both important and familiar from the nuclear industry:
“NASA explosion fuels concerns about Russian engines, oversight Posted:Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:20:51 -0400
WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) – The explosion of an Orbital Science Corp supply rocket over Virginia could accelerate U.S. efforts to replace aging Russian space technology with a pricey homegrown rocket engine.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/basicmaterialsNews/~3/wS8QsovWbNk/space-orbital-commercialization-idUSL1N0SO2OZ20141030
“October 29, 2014 RELEASE 14-303
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Completes Initial Assessment after Orbital Launch Mishap
An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28.
Image Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach
The Wallops Incident Response Team completed today an initial assessment of Wallops Island, Virginia, following the catastrophic failure of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
“I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource — our people,” said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director. “In the coming days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to assess the damage on the island and begin the process of moving forward to restore our space launch capabilities. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will rebound stronger than ever.”
The initial assessment is a cursory look; it will take many more weeks to further understand and analyze the full extent of the effects of the event. A number of support buildings in the immediate area have broken windows and imploded doors. A sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.
At Pad 0A the initial assessment showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods, as well as debris around the pad.
The Wallops team also met with a group of state and local officials, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Marine Police, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Wallops environmental team also is conducting assessments at the site. Preliminary observations are that the environmental effects of the launch failure were largely contained within the southern third of Wallops Island, in the area immediately adjacent to the pad. Immediately after the incident, the Wallops’ industrial hygienist collected air samples at the Wallops mainland area, the Highway 175 causeway, and on Chincoteague Island. No hazardous substances were detected at the sampled locations.
Additional air, soil and water samples will be collected from the incident area as well as at control sites for comparative analysis.
The Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission reported today they have not observed any obvious signs of water pollution, such as oil sheens. Furthermore, initial assessments have not revealed any obvious impacts to fish or wildlife resources. The Incident Response Team continues to monitor and assess.
Following the initial assessment, the response team will open the area of Wallops Island, north of the island flagpole opposite of the launch pad location, to allow the U.S. Navy to return back to work.
Anyone who finds debris or damage to their property in the vicinity of the launch mishap is cautioned to stay away from it and call the Incident Response Team at 757-824-1295.
Further updates on the situation and the progress of the ongoing investigation will be available at: http://www.orbital.com and http://www.nasa.gov/orbital
“Under a contract with Thales Alenia Space, Orbital is conducting integration and test services for Iridium NEXT, the next-generation satellite constellation of Iridium Communications Inc.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_Sciences_Corporation